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News of Otsego County

Francesca Zambello

RENCKENS: Is ‘Perfect Village’ Pricing Out Seniors?
Letter from Jim & Polly Renckens

Is ‘Perfect Village’
Pricing Out Seniors?

Now getting into our ninth decade of life, we find there are concerns that weren’t there in our eighth decade.

The latest concern is downsizing. Even though we older folks want to stay in our present home forever, the reality is that the constant upkeep, inside and out, becomes very difficult. So now is the time, and many others feel this way too, to move forward to the next stage of our lives. Now is the time to sell the house and move to a first floor, handicapped accessible two-bedroom in Cooperstown. BUT—now the problem! These apartments are like finding “hens’ teeth” (as my Dad used to say). We don’t want to put our home on the market, and have no place to live.

Bravo Francesca Zambello and Thank You!

Bravo Francesca Zambello
and Thank You!

Partner Faith Gay, their son Jack, and Francesca celebrate on stage on Saturday to a round of applause, while the audience sang Climb Every Mountain.

Francesca Zambello is close to the end of her time at Glimmerglass Festival.

“The end of my tenure at The Glimmerglass is bittersweet. I am grateful for all the love that has been showered on me and my family during this season. When I joined The Glimmerglass Festival, my goals were to create a real Festival format and to use the arts as a platform for discussion around social issue,” Ms. Zambello said.

During this season the Festival hosted several world premieres, and all productions featured their now extensive youth ensemble.

Glimmerglass Festival Announces New Director

Glimmerglass Festival
Announces New Director

The Glimmerglass Festival has announced the appointment of Robert Ainsley as the company’s next Artistic & General Director to succeed Francesca Zambello who helmed the festival since 2010.

Ainsley has appeared as a pianist, administrator and speaker with a variety of prominent institutions, including the White House, Supreme Court, Smithsonian Museums, National Gallery, Kennedy Center Honors, Wolf Trap National Park, Met Stars Live in Concert, embassies and diplomatic residences.

He was previously the Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists Program and the American Opera Initiative, where he commissioned, developed, and premiered more than 30 new operas, songs, and more by leading artists.

Glimmerglass Festival releasing opera film for free on website

Glimmerglass Festival releasing opera film for free on website

The Glimmerglass Festival is releasing  ‘The Knock’, a 50 minute opera as a film for free on its website on Veteran’s Day, Thursday, November 11.

‘The Knock’, composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov, was originally slated for a 2020 stage production, but after the pandemic hit, they decided to create the work as a film. The one-act opera is about the wives of military men waiting for news of their husbands.

The libretto, created by Deborah Brevoort, is based on interviews of soldiers’ spouses.

Opera soared under Francesca Zambello’s ‘rocket ship phase’

Francesca Zambello

Opera soared under Francesca Zambello’s ‘rocket ship phase’

By TARA BARNWELL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Glimmerglass Festival loses its leader at the end of its 2022 festival season when the visionary Francesca Zambello steps down after a transformative 12-year run at the helm.

“I first came to the festival in 1997 and directed Iphigene en Tauride, she said. “I fell in love with the region and the festival. Since becoming the general and artistic director, every season has been enjoyable, I can’t pick just one as my favorite. Every year has its highlights.”

“We just keep growing richer and stronger,” she said.

The Glimmerglass adapts: Festival performances to begin Thursday, July 15, with Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’

Glimmerglass Festival electrician Bryson Kiser works on the lights for the outdoor stage for this summer’s performances. (Karli Cadel)

The Glimmerglass adapts: Festival performances to begin Thursday, July 15, with Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’

The Glimmerglass Festival, home to the summer opera and other theater, will open Thursday, July 15 with “The Magic Flute” by Mozart.

The festival will have outdoor performances on a specially built stage, in order to accommodate
COVID-19 restrictions.

Francesca Zambello, Festival artistic and general director said in a me

dia release that the theater “reimagined” the Glimmerglass experience in order to safely showcase their works.

“While this move outdoors is primarily for the health and safety of our company members, audience members and community, it is in harmony with what people love about Glimmerglass — innovative art and performances in a beautiful location,” Zambello said. “We are extremely grateful to Andrew
Martin-Weber for making this outdoor stage possible, and we look forward to bringing amazing performances to you from the Andrew J. Martin-Weber Lawn Stage.”

The outdoor stage will be at the south part of the Glimmerglass’s Springfield Center campus, with socially distanced festival squares for spaced-out seating. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs with low profiles, so the performances can be enjoyed comfortably.

“The Magic Flute” is described by the press release as a “whimsical tale of love and wisdom with an original libretto from Emanuel Schikaneder.” It is directed by N.J. Agwuna and conducted Joseph Colaneri, with costumes by Christelle Matou.

“Il Trovatore” an epic love story which is co-directed by Zambello and Eric Sean Fogel with music
conducted by Joseph Colaneri, will open Sunday, Aug. 1.

“Songbird,” adapted from “La Perichole,” will have its first performance Friday, July 30.

“To the World” opens Friday, July 16. The show is a journey around the globe through popular musical theater hits. It stars Isabel Leonard,

William Burden, Alexandria Shiner, Michael Mayes and members of the Young Artists Program.
Eric Sean Fogel directs and James Lowe conducts.

“Gods and Mortals,” which opens Tuesday, Aug. 3, celebrates the work of Richard Wagner with
selections from some of his most popular operas, including “The Ring Cycle” and “Tannhäuser,” as well as some of his lesser known works, including “Die Feen.”

“At a time when the world can feel strikingly small — confined to a bedroom and a laptop — Wagner’s grand works remind us of feeling larger than life. His fascination with mythology and the natural world will propel us as we take the festival outdoors,” Zambello said in the media release.

The staged concert will star Eric Owens, Alexandria Shiner and Ian Koziara. “Gods
and Mortals” is conducted by Joseph Colaneri and directed by Zambello.

The season will also include “The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson,” a new play with music celebrating the founder of the historic and groundbreaking National Negro Opera Company and starring acclaimed mezzo soprano Denyce Graves in the title role.

Written by the Mark Twain Award-winning playwright and librettist, Sandra Seaton, the play includes selections from the repertory of the National Negro Opera Company and original music composed by Carlos Simon.

“Madame Dawson was an arts pioneer, a woman of many firsts, whose remarkable story had been all but forgotten until recently,” Graves said in the media release. “Mary Cardwell Dawson broke through incredible barriers to give voice to singers of color, creating opportunities that eventually brought them to major American opera house stages for the first time. It is an honor to champion her story — and that of the National Negro Opera Company she founded in 1941.”

Go to Glimmerglass.org for more information and to purchase tickets.

Chestnut Crossing developers host neighborhood Q&A

Artist’s rendering for the Chestnut Crossing property proposed for 10 Chestnut Street, shows the alleys, parking area and adjacent property on Pine Boulevard that will act as a buffer between the 13-unit rental property and its neighbors. (Greg Klein/Allotsego)

Chestnut Crossing developers host neighborhood Q&A

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN — About 50 village residents gathered Monday, June 15, at a residential space at 20 Lake Street to hear a detailed presentation and ask questions about a debated proposal to build a 13-unit rental apartment on several pieces of property on Chestnut Street.

Josh Edmonds, a Cooperstown native who is the owner of Simple Integrity Construction, and Francesca Zambello, the artistic and managing director of The Glimmerglass Festival, detailed their private partnership and its plans to develop the three pieces of property they own—two on Chestnut and one on Pine Boulevard, behind it—into one housing project.

Trustees Agree To Remove Sign That Angered Residents

Trustees Agree To Remove
Sign That Angered Residents

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A solar-powered speed limit sign on Pioneer Street that village residents disliked will be moved to State Route 28.

The village of Cooperstown will remove a controversial solar-powered speed limit sign from Pioneer Street.

The village’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday, April 26, to remove the sign, which was in front of 100 Pioneer Street and told motorists heading south on Pioneer if they were exceeding the village’s 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.

The meeting was held in person in the village ballroom at 22 Main St.

As part of the motion, the trustees agreed to relocate the sign to the southern entryway to the village on State Route 28.

The sign has drawn complaints from dozens of current and former village residents, complaining about the aesthetics of the sign and dismissing the need to put it in a residential area. Two residents spoke against the sign Monday, leading Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh to tell the crowd of about 15 people that the trustees would fix the sign problem later in the meeting.

“The intent of the meeting tonight will be to remove the solar-powered sign … and nothing will be on Pioneer.

Here’s Evidence That The ARts Can Be Entrepreneurial, Too
EDITORIAL

Here’s Evidence That The Arts
Can Be Entrepreneurial, Too

When the going gets tough, the entrepreneurs get going.

At the first “Coffee With Coop,” Glimmerglass Festival’s Francesca Zambello outlines plans for the Andrew J. Martin-Weber Lawn Stage, which will ensure a robust 2021 season, despite COVID.

A corollary: The entrepreneurial spirit isn’t limited to entrepreneurs. (Per Merriam-Webster: “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so.”)

So it was telling to watch the Cooperstown Chamber’s first “Coffee With Coop” panel discussion via Zoom last Friday, March 19. Kudos to the Chamber, and Executive Director Tara Burke, who was also an adept emcee.

It was a little disheartening to hear a recitation of all the Hall of Fame cancellations, although the scope of its undertakings – an estimated 80,000 fans were expected at Derek Jeter’s Induction – make them particularly fraught, not to mention dangerous, in Time of COVID.

And yet, the entrepreneurial spirit lived in presentations by, first, Fenimore President/CEO Paul D’Ambrosio and then, in Glimmerglass Opera General & Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Cooperstown Reflects Series Continues 01-27-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27

‘Cooperstown Reflects’ Continues

14-19eventspageCOOPERSTOWN REFLECTS – 7 p.m. Library Anti-Racism series continues with “Cooperstown Reflects on Racism in Arts and Monuments.” Panel includes Eva Fognell,  Thaw Collection of Native American Art, Fenimore Museum; Tom Heitz/Sharon Stuart, Otsego town co-historian;  CGP Director Gretchen Sorin, and Glimmerglass Festival Art & General Director Francesca Zambello. Free, registration required. Presented by Friends of the Village Library of Cooperstown. 607-547-8344 or visit www.eventbrite.com/o/friends-of-the-village-library-23034666815

Ruth Bader Ginsburg And Otsego County

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Otsego County

Kay Pierro, center, top row, took her friend, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, waterskiing one summer when she came to visit.

By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – One summer, while visiting Cooperstown, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsberg had a request for her friend, Kay Pierro.

“She wanted to go waterskiing!” Pierro said.

“So I asked around for a friend who had a boat to take her on, but (federal marshals) needed to follow in a second boat, so I had to ask around for another.

“She tried so hard to get up, but the skis we had were too long for her.”

Ginsburg, 87, who has starred in an “Opera & Law” presentation every summer since 2013 (except this one) at the Glimmerglass Festival, died Friday, Sept 18, from pancreatic cancer.

Pierro first met Ginsburg when Jane Forbes Clark hired her to cook for the justice and her husband, Marty, who were staying in Miss Clark’s guest house for the weekend in 2004.

“My husband always called it ‘the improbable friendship,’” Pierro said. “She was a Supreme Court justice and I was just a cook, but she was the kindest, warmest, most gentle person I have ever known.”

They stayed in contact for years, and Ginsburg frequently invited her to events, including to the Supreme Court itself and to the unveiling of her portrait at the New England School of Law in Boston. “My son graduated from there, and when she found out, she invited us both to the ceremony,” said Pierro. “She would bring me gifts back from Europe, and we would write to each other.”

Glimmerglass’ music & general director, Francesca Zambello, had struck up a friendship with Ginsburg after she directed Beethoven’s “Fidelio” at the National Opera House in 2003.

“She wrote me a letter and said it was her favorite production of ‘Fidelio’ that she had ever seen,” Zambello said.

“I saw her at the Washington National Opera right before the pandemic,” she continued. “And she had her tickets reserved for this year’s Glimmerglass Festival. We’re all mourning her passing.”

When Zambello became head of the Festival in 2010, she invited Ginsburg and her family to attend the shows. “She had visited when Paul Kellogg was director, but we began talking about doing a program about opera and the law, since so many of them involve contracts and wrong-doing,” she said.

“And I thought, how wonderful it would be if I could engage her in our love of opera together in a way the public could appreciate.”

The program started in 2013 and was a sell-out every summer. “It was one of our most successful programs,” she said.

In 2017, the Festival produced “Scalia/Ginsburg,”
a comic opera about the friendship between Ginsburg and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.

“After one performance, she came and spoke about him, which was great,” said Zambello. “He never visited Glimmerglass, but I would see him at the National Opera, and they would sit on opposite sides of the aisle. They disagreed all day, but at night they would share this passion for opera.”

Following the news of her death, a vigil was held on the steps of the Otsego County Courthouse, where Village Trustee Richard Sternberg and Dave Pearlman, retired CCS high school principal, led the gathering in Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning.

“People were very moved,” said Sternberg.

Sternberg had met Ginsburg several times; his cousin was a protégée and student of her husband, Marty Ginsburg, at Columbia Law School. “When my nephew was born, I found myself standing next to a short, very slight lady at his bris,” Sternberg said. “She was introduced to me as Judge Ginsburg, but I didn’t think much of it.”

He saw her at several other events, including his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. “She was a Supreme Court justice then, and I made the connection,” he said. “I didn’t say much, which was unusual for me.”

At his niece’s Bat Mitzvah, he overheard another woman ask about the famous lace on her collar. “She told the story that she and Sandra Day O’Connor thought that since Judge (William) Rehnquist put gold stripes on his robes, that they would put lace on theirs as a response,” he said.

Though he often saw Ginsburg at the Festival, he declined to introduce himself again. “I was intimidated, plus she had bodyguards,” he said.

Zambello said the Festival is beginning to look at ways to honor her legacy during next year’s season.

“She loved the Festival and was very proud of what we were doing with social justice,” she said. “But she also loved a good ‘La Boheme.’ She really was our greatest spokesperson.”

“We had a wonderful relationship,” said Pierro. “She was a real treasure.”

ZAMBELLO: On Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Opera

RUTH BADER GINSBURG AT GLIMMERGLASS

‘These Dark Archangels,

Will They Be Conquered?’

As the Glimmerglass Festival’s general & music director, Francesca Zambello hosted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an “Opera and Law” program nine summers in a row in Cooperstown.

As many people may know, the Young Artist Program at the Glimmerglass Festival is an integral part of our work. One of our recent alumni, Alexandria Shiner (last seen as Bertha in the Barber of Seville 2018), went on to become part of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera and to win the first prize of the Met auditions.

A few weeks before COVID closed everything, Ali took the lead role in a version of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul” in the Supreme Court’s private chambers. The opportunity came about because Justice Ginsburg held occasional musicales at the Court, carrying on a tradition started by Sandra Day O’Connor.

Rob Ainsley, the director of the Cafritz Young Artist Program, and I wanted to do something different than just a concert. We asked Justice Ginsburg if we could present a one-hour version of “The Consul,” an opera that deals with immigration issues not unlike those currently being hotly debated.

We had already presented the opera in various locations as a kind of outreach work, but all these were previews leading up to what we felt would be our most important showing of the piece.

We arrived in the morning to rehearse in the chambers like a funny band of traveling players carrying our costumes and props into the Supreme Court.

How strange – and how moving – to be telling this story of political dissidents, government overstep and visa frustrations before an audience of men and women who had sworn to uphold our country’s ideals.

RBG always loved meeting the new young artists and this was a special year. I still remember Ali, as Magda, staring into the eyes of one justice after another as she sang these words:

To this we’ve come:
that men withhold the world from men.
No ship nor shore for him who drowns at sea.
No home nor grave for him who dies on land.

To this we’ve come:
that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth,
that he be chosen without a chance for choice,
that he be hunted without the hope of refuge.

To this we’ve come.
(To the Secretary)
And you, you too shall weep!
If to men, not to God, we now must pray,
tell me, Secretary, tell me,
who are these men?
If to them, not to God, we now must pray…

Who are these dark archangels?
Will they be conquered? Will they be doomed?
Is there one, anyone behind those doors
to whom the heart can still be explained?
Is there one, anyone, who still may care?
Tell me, Secretary, tell me!

As she threw the papers in the air screaming “Papers, Papers,” the room felt electric. I shall never forget this, nor will anyone there.

RBG, with a wink, told me how she loved the simple and direct performance of “The Consul” so close to the halls of justice. I am grateful for all she gave to our Festival over the past decade.

Glimmerglass Festival Out

Glimmerglass Festival Out

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To AllOTSEGO.com

Francesca Zambello

COOPERSTOWN – With the curtain on “The Sound of Music” scheduled to rise in just two months, the Glimmerglass Festival has announced it will not host any live performances this summer.

“It was our hope this summer to gather at the Festival,” Francesca Zambello, artistic director, said Tuesday, May 5. “But it became clear that, for all our safety, we cannot gather together to perform
the beautiful season we had planned for you.”

Following Governor Cuomo’s order prohibiting attractions that would draw a large number of visitors, the Glimmerglass Festival Board of Trustees made its decision.

The festival was slated to perform “Don Giovanni,” “Rinaldo,” “Die Feen
(The Fairies)” and “The Jungle Book.”

However, the festival will continue its educational pro-grams, including the 2020 Young Artists program, Summer Internship Program and its local Youth Opera Program.

“Public performances are only the tip of the iceberg,” Zambello said. “Behind the scenes, the company invests an enormous amount of energy in training the young people who make up the future of the art form (through) group workshops and one-on-one mentoring from established professionals.”
The festival is also planning “a robust selection of virtual opportunities.”

The Glimmerglass Festival is late to the table.

Other local cultural institutions, including The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall, remain closed at present, but all intend to open as soon as the governor declares it is safe to do so.

“The museum is nothing without people,” said Paul D’Ambrosio, Fenimore and Farmers’ president. “We are preparing for an eventual reopening, with all procedures and guidelines in place.”

Meanwhile, each is offering virtual programs. The Farmers’ focus is on crafts and cooking; The Fenimore on collection highlights and open mic nights, Hyde Hall with a new series on the mansion’s lighting, which was cutting-edge technologically in the 19th century.

“We want to create a virtual museum experience,” said Jon Maney, Hyde Hall executive director.“It’s a good way to keep present in people’s minds, to make them interested for when they can come here.”

Similarly, the festival will take its Town Hall series virtual, starting with a Live Conversation with Zambello and Music Director Joseph Colaneri.

“A huge part of the Festival’s mission is to inspire dialogue around meaningful issues through storytelling and music,” Zambello said. “I am very excited about the prospect of bringing our Town Hall discussions to a potentially wider audience.”

Though Hyde Hall is closed, Maney has invited visitors to tour the grounds and sit on the porch overlooking Otsego Lake.

When tours can resume, he said, they will likely be by reservation only.

GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL CANCELS 2020 SEASON

Educational Programs, Town Halls Go Virtual

GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL

CANCELS ’20 LIVE SEASON

Glimmerglass Festival, as Glimmerglass Opera, has held a summer season annually since 1975. (Glimmerglass Festival photo)

COOPERSTOWN – The Glimmerglass Festival will not host any live performances this summer, according to a release sent a few minutes ago.

“As theater people, we are accustomed to problem solving,” Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello said. “We had already adjusted plans and schedules in the hope we might be able to welcome company members and audience members for a Festival this summer.

“But in considering the health and safety of our artists and staff, and following New York State and CDC recommendations, we must now instead focus on how we can provide an opportunity for people to come together around song and story — without coming together in person,” she said.

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